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I-Epistemology PDF Print E-mail
Problem Statement

The most important manifestation of the knowledge crisis is dichotomy in the education system: traditional Islamic vs. imported European. Integration of the 2 systems has failed. Secularization of education eliminated the moral dimension and violated the aim of Islamic education to produce an integrated and perfect individual, insan kaamil. The ummatic malaise due to the knowledge crisis that started with the fall of the khilafat rashidah when the authentic ‘ulama were marginalized. Society became ‘secularized’ because the rulers were in one valley and the scholars in another valley. This dichotomy between the sources of Islamic guidance and the political leadership of society eventually led to and nurtured the knowledge crisis we have today.

Vision

Educational and knowledge reform are a pre requisite for tajdid because tajdiid = idea + action. The vision of the knowledge strategy is an upright balanced person who understands the creator, knows his place, his roles, his rights, and his responsibilities in the cosmic order. The mission of the knowledge strategy is conceptual transformation of the education system from kindergarten to post graduate studies to reflect tauhid, positive moral values, objectivity, universality, and serving the larger causes of humanity.

Focus Areas
  • Reform of Research Methodology
Modern research is based on the empirical method that unfortunately has Euro-centric biases. There is no contradiction among sources of knowledge: wahy, ‘aql, and kaun. The Qur’anic provides guiding principles for knowledge and building civilization. Muslims taught the empirical methodology to Europeans in the 15th and 6th centuries but forgot it during the era of decline. It is now coming back to them in a new context that reflects the European and not the Islamic world view. Muslims accept the empirical methods but reject concepts added by Europeans that reflect the European and the Muslim world view. A tauhidi universal, objective and unbiased methodology must replace the Euro-centric and philosophically biased context but not the practical experimental methods. The precepts of tauhidi science are: unity of knowledge, comprehensiveness; causality as the basis for human action, limitation of human knowledge, constant and fixed natural laws, harmony between the seen and the unseen, 3 sources of knowledge (wahy, aql, & empirical observation; khilafat; moral accountability; creation and existence have a purpose, truth is both absolute and relative, human free will is the basis of accountability, and tawakkul.

  • Reform of Disciplines of Knowledge
Reform has to start with reforming the epistemology, methodology, and corpus of knowledge of each discipline. It must be pro-active, academic, methodological, objective, and practical. Its vision is objective, universal, and beneficial knowledge in the context of a harmonious interaction of humans with their physical, social, and spiritual environment. Its practical mission is transformation of the paradigms, methodologies, and uses of disciplines of knowledge to conform to tauhid. Its immediate goals are: (a) de-Europeanizing paradigms of existing disciplines to change them from parochiality to universal objectivity, (b) reconstruction of the paradigms using Islamic universal guidelines, (c) re-classifying disciplines to reflect universal tauhidi values, (d) reforming research methodology to become objective, purposeful, and comprehensive (e) growth of knowledge by research, and (f) inculcating morally correct application of knowledge. The Qur’an gives general principles that establish objectivity and protect against biased research methodology. It creates a world-view that encourages research to extend the frontiers of knowledge and its use for the benefit of the whole universe. Scientists are encouraged to work within these Qur’anic parameters to expand the frontiers of knowledge through research, basic and applied.

  • Practical Steps/Tasks of the Reform Process

The first step is a good grounding in Islamic methodological sciences of of usul al fiqh,  ulum al Qur’an, ulum al hadith, and 'uluum al llughat. This is followed by reading the Qur’an and sunnat with understanding of the changing time-space dimensions. This is followed by clarification of basic epistemological issues and relations: wahy and aql, ghaib and shahada, ‘ilm and iman. This is followed by an Islamic critique of basic paradigms, basic assumptions, and basic concepts of various disciplines using criteria of Islamic methodology and Islamic epistemology. Islamic reviews of existing text-books and teaching materials are then undertaken to identify deviations from the tauhidi episteme and the Islamic methodology. The initial output of the islamization process will be Islamic introductions to disciplines, muqaddimat al ‘uluum, establishing basic Islamic principles and paradigms that determine and regulate the methodology, content, and teaching of disciplines. This parallels Ibn Khaldun’s Introduction to History, muqaddimat presented generalizing and methodological concepts on historical events. Publication and testing of new text-books and other teaching materials is a necessary step towards reform by putting into the hands of teachers and students reformed material. Developing applied knowledge in science and technology from basic knowledge will be the last stage of the reform process. This is because in the end it is science and technology that actually lead to changes in society.